Losing someone close to you can invoke many complex emotions like sadness, pain, loss, and hurt. These feelings are natural and a part of life, but with complicated grief, or complicated bereavement disorder, such feelings don’t fade with time or improve. Their emotions might be so intense that it disrupts their daily life.
Living with complicated grief can bring up dysfunctional behaviors and unconventional thoughts. This chronic form of suffering can make it impossible to return to a healthy state of life. When normal grief does not go away, complicated grief occurs.
Think of complicated grief like being in a heightened state of mourning that prevents you from accepting and moving forward. Often this looks like intense sorrow and pain and constantly thinking about the loss of your loved one. You may find it challenging to think about anything else but your loved one’s death. But also, complicated grief could also arise from separation as well as life transition such as loss of job.
Losing someone close to you is a distressing and natural event that everyone faces at one point or another throughout their lives. It is entirely normal to go through a period of sadness, numbness, regret, guilt, or even anger. However, these feelings eventually fade and are replaced with acceptance and the ability to get on with life.
For most people, the grieving experience follows a natural sequence and timing of events:
- Acceptance of loss
- Experiencing the pain and grief of your loss
- Adjusting to a new reality without your loved one
- Having new relationships
Complicated grief does not allow you to move through these stages in a healthy time frame.
Examples and Signs of Complicated Grief
Complicated grief can look like normal grief, except that symptoms usually fade over time with normal grief.
Examples of complicated grief may include:
- Avoiding thinking of their loss
- Obsessively thinking of their loved one
- Intense longing for their loved one
- Feeling a loss of purpose in life
- Constantly reminding themselves of their loved one
- Suicidal thoughts
- Unable to accept their loss that occurred at least six months ago
- Feelings of loneliness
- Lack of interest in taking care of one’s self
- Reckless and self-destructive behavior
- Inability to resume their regular routine
- Avoiding activities or places that remind them of their lost one
- Loss of appetite
- Stress and anxiety
If these symptoms persist for more than a month and significantly impair your life, then it may be time to seek help.
Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 if you have suicidal thoughts to receive support and assistance from a compassionate, trained professional.
Healthy Ways to Cope
The best way to cope with complicated grief is by seeking out professional counseling and therapy. Treatment can help you focus on your condition and begin the process of healing.
The most common treatment option is called bereavement therapy. A bereavement counselor will show you ways to monitor your grief and stabilize your emotions. You can also join a bereavement support group to talk about your feelings of sorrow, pain, and loss. It’s important to know that you are not alone and that other people experience the same emotions.
Other forms of therapy can help you cope with your situation, such as traumatic grief therapy. Help is always available, and you can find ways to find happiness and peace again.Learn More
The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Learning about mental health and why it is important to take care of breeds promise for a happy, healthy community. Beginning in America in 1949, this outreach program has grown to include over 150 countries. Today, in 2021, its’ purpose of raising awareness and educating the public about mental health is more important now than ever before due to the effects Covid-19 has had on the world.
Even before the pandemic, mental illness was a global public health crisis. One in five people were affected by a mental health condition and many did not seek treatment because they were scared or uninsured. Now, those numbers have grown and, to date, are unable to be calculated. Health authorities just know they are increasing, and mental health is becoming a growing problem.
What, exactly, is mental health?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is:
“… a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
Many times, suffering with mental health is mild and can be completely overlooked. Sometimes it can be hard to identify a mental disorder especially in oneself, and sometimes it can be accepted as being normal when it should not be. Mental health professionals can formally diagnose and treat disorders when they have a patient, but most people do not understand they need treatment or are afraid of the stigma. This is where raising awareness comes in. It is important to understand what is positive and normal within the realm of mental health and what is not and act accordingly. A life may depend on it.
Mental health affects thoughts, feelings, and actions. Examples of mental disorders include anxiety, depression, eating disorder, personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychotic disorder. Mental health problems affect individuals, their families and loved ones, as well as their communities. Mental illnesses also affects that persons’ income, employment, education, homelessness, community participation, and life expectancy.
It is common for many people to suffer with mental health to one degree or another. Some cases are severe, and others are mild. Either way, mental health can be improved. When someone wants help, but declines seeking it, their struggle may seem real, but it is unnecessary. Speaking with a therapist can help and studies show that people with mental health issues can be treated, get better, and even recover completely.
Receiving care can be costly, though, so recently President Joe Biden’s administration released large amounts of aid for a system of care for the mental health needs of adults and children. With suicide rates unusually high among black youth and LGBTQI+ demographics during Covid, he stated: ”I call upon citizens, government agencies, organizations, healthcare providers, and research institutions to raise mental health awareness and continue helping Americans live longer, healthier lives.”
Treatments like counseling and therapy, services, and community support is available more now than ever before and these approaches do work. Living a normal life is within reach. You just need to start the journey to recovery. Seek help. We are here for you.
There is hope.Learn More